There's no question that most computer users employ a word processor more frequently than any other application on their system. Which program is best for you? To a large extent, that depends on how you plan to use it.
If word processing is just a small part of your work, or you rarely venture beyond the most basic documents, you may find that the word processing modules of several low-priced suites will do the trick and save you money. Products such as Microsoft Works and Novell's PerfectWorks handle the same text basics and support the same file formats as pricier standalone products.
For more substantial editing power, consider any one of the three major word processing programs--Microsoft Word, WordPerfect from Corel and Lotus’ Word Pro (the successor to Ami Pro). All of them do a fine job of handling text basics and then some: entering and correcting text, inserting special fields such as the current date, formatting text to include hanging indents or a drop cap (an extra-large first letter in a paragraph), correcting spelling errors, applying styles so that similar correspondence has a consistent look, and so on.
If you use a word processor to prepare more complex documents--those that include a chart or graph, a portion of a spreadsheet or graphics—you’ll find more horsepower in a professional suite: Microsoft Office, Corel WordPerfect Suite or Lotus SmartSuite. These suites offer the full-fledged word processors mentioned above, with additional functionality and tools to help you assemble documents for everything from corporate reports to school newsletters.
Although word processors have a variety of features that help you publish newsletters and brochures, high-volume users will probably be better served by a desktop publishing (DTP) package. DTP products make it easier to create documents with lots of columns and graphics. Some packages, such as Microsoft Publisher, are also ideal for the occasional user.
Here are some specifics to consider before you buy:
For more details on these features and word processors, investigate the Secret Life of Your Word Processor in our June issue.
Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.